How to cook in Project Zomboid

Confused on how to cook meals whilst surviving the apocalypse in Project Zomboid? Look no further as we are going to break down exactly how to cook meals, and how they can help you survive. By the end of this guide you should be a culinary master worthy of even Gordon Ramsey’s praise. This guide is written for and played on build 41, specifically the iwbums beta version on Project Zomboid that you will have to sign up to. This guide does not take into account Project Zomboid mods or any other game-changing files. The guide will work in the standard build 41 version of Project Zomboid in single player and split-screen.

How to cook in Project Zomboid Chiicken Roast
Ready, set, delicious!

Main things you will need to cook in Project Zomboid

To cook meals in Project Zomboid you will need a few things:

  1. Raw food ingredients such as raw chicken, tofu or vegetables.
  2. The correct container to put them in. For example to cook a stir fry you will need some type of pan, be it frying pan or griddle pan.
  3. (for most recipes) A heat source or cooking appliance. You will need some type of heat, whether you have a Microwave, oven or even a fireplace at your disposal.
  4. An exception to the 3rd point would be if you are creating a meal that doesn’t require any cooking such as a simple sandwich or salad.

How to prepare a meal in the crafting menu

All of the Cooking in Project Zomboid is zone through the crafting menu. To access this click on the crafting menu icon on the left of the screen and in the headings click on the Cooking section to filter only cooking items. See the picture below:

How to cook in project zomboid. Cooking menu guide
A look at the crafting menu in Project Zomboid. This certain recipe is done in a griddle pan

In the crafting menu, you can see the items that you will need for each desired meal. There are a lot of actions included in the list as well, such as open cans and splitting stacks to open food containers. You do not need to do this in preparation for the meal. Just having the ingredients in your inventory is enough.

As you can see in the picture above, I am able to cook a bacon-based stir fry using raw bacon, cabbage and tofu.

Depending on the recipe you will need the correct cooking supplies and containers to put them in. For example, in the image above I used a griddle pan to cook the bacon stir fry. If you were to try to heat up canned soup you would need a cooking pot. You will have to check the crafting menu of each recipe in order to figure out which supplies you will need.


How to cook the food once you have made a meal

To cook your freshly prepared food you need a heat source, put in your desired dish and heat it up using the devices’ settings menu. In this example I am going to cook my bacon stir fry dish in the microwave until it is ready to be eaten. You can also find items like a stove or barbecue during your adventures in Project Zomboid. Though it must be noted as some of these items require fuel they will have a burn time. For that reason you should use cooking appliances until the power runs out.

How to cook in project zomboid stir fry in the microwave build 41
Perhaps not the most common way to cook a Stir Fry but it gets the job done.

Firstly, you will need to find your dish in your inventory. Then you have to drag the meal into the cooking appliances’ container on the right side. In this example you can see the microwave container on the right side of the screen. I take my uncooked stir fry and throw it into the microwave. Whilst Project Zomboid is a fairly realistic zombie survival experience I do not recommend cooking stir fry in the microwave in a pan in real life.

After the meal is successfully in the container right-click on the appliance and either turn it on straight away, or go to the device settings where you can set how hot you want the device to run and how long it should run for with the timer. Experiment with different settings as different meals have different cooking times, as in real life.

How to cook in Project Zomboid How to use the Microwave image
An image showing the settings menu of a microwave and an overview of how the stir fry is cooking

Don’t burn the food!

When you have successfully put your hard-earned meal in the microwave and turned it on make sure you check the meal to make sure it isn’t going to burn. Burnt food has a negative impact on your boredom meter and can also lead to food based illnesses. You can check the food in real time by hovering over the food item in the microwave container. As of build 41, you can also see how long until the meal is cooked by assessing the ‘Cooking’ meter that you can see in the image above. Depending on your skills and starting professions you may also be able to see the nutritional value in this hover menu.


How to find recipes in Project Zomboid

You can find various magazines in Project Zomboid build 41 to give you a new variety of food to cook. You can find these magazines in various locations on the Project Zomboid map such as in libraries, gas stations and schools. As you cook, your cooking level will naturally begin to increase. Some advanced recipes can only be learnt by levelling up your cooking skill so make sure you continue to cook and cook.

Find new recipes in Project Zomboid Cooking magazine
A cooking magazine found as general loot in Project Zomboid.

To get a little head start on your cooking adventure in Project Zomboid there is a starting profession called cook. When you create a character in Project Zomboid with this trait they will immediately know a huge range of different recipes and have a permanent multiplier to the cooking skill. This is certainly a great starting idea if you plan to be the chef of your Project Zomboid multiplayer group or role-playing community.


Do I need everything in my hands to cook a recipe?

Every recipe in the crafting menu is able to be crafted with items from inside nearby containers. By that I mean, if you have a saucepan in one kitchen cabinet, a soup in the next one and a sink by the side you will still be able to put water and soup in the saucepan through the crafting menu. You do not need to have all the items in your direct inventory.


Common cooking mistakes in Project Zomboid

I still can’t make this recipe and I have a frying pan:

Try using a different cooking utensil instead, such as a cooking pot or saucepan. Chances are you are trying to use the wrong item. Although it may make sense in real life, you will have to check the crafting recipe in the crafting menu or Project Zomboid to see what you really need.

I have all the ingredients needed in my cupboards but still can’t make the meal?

Make sure that the ingredients are all within range of your character to cook the meal. You can also move the items directly into your inventory or backpack to make sure you have them all.

I don’t have any recipes to cook?

You may need to level up your cooking skill to make certain dishes. Recipes can also be found in random loot places in cooking magazine. It isn’t enough just to have the cooking magazine in your inventory. You will have to read the magazine in full by right clicking on it and waiting until the player has read the entire thing.

Everything I cook is coming out burnt. What gives?

Remember to keep a close eye on the cooking level of your food while it is in the oven or microwave. Going to sleep and leaving the oven on is a sure-fire way to end up with burnt food. Once you cook a meal you will get a general feel of how long it takes and can set a timer on the oven to make sure the food will not end up burnt.


You know the ins and outs of how to cook in Project Zomboid!

If you’ve made it this far, congratulations! You now know exactly how to cook in Project Zomboid and are on your way to becoming a world renowned chef. Now you just have to find some nice places to loot and somewhere to cook on the Project Zomboid map.

Related: Project Zomboid – Helicopter Event

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